Total U.S. population.
On this topic respondents were asked which statement came closer to their view even if neither was exactly right: Homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society OR Homosexuality is a way of life that should be discouraged by society.
The American population is split on this issue. Fifty percent agree that Homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society. However there is wide variation in the response when one looks at the different generations.
Without a doubt Millennials (18-29) are most favorable toward homosexuality. Nearly two-thirds of this generation (63%) take the acceptance stance. This is 12% greater than the generation that comes closest to them, Gen X (30-49) at 51%. Only 35% of those 65 or older hold the acceptance view.
The Religiously unaffiliated.
As might be expected, the unaffiliated are most likely of any group to support the view that, " Homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society." Almost three-quarters (71%) of the unaffiliated hold this view. Nearly eight out of ten unaffiliated Millennials (79%) accept the liberal view. This is the highest percentage of any age group or sub-group.
Evangelicals are by far (26%) the least likely to hold the acceptance view toward homosexuality. But quite surprising is the finding that a full 39% of young (18-29) Evangelicals do hold the acceptance view. A number of commentators have found this a very interesting finding as it shows the effect of age so clearly.
Overall members of Historically Black Protestant Churches offer only some support (39%) for the acceptance view. They are more supportive than Evangelicals but less supportive than Mainline Protestants. But it is a real surprise to find that over half (51%) of young African Americans support the the acceptance view compared to only 36% of those over 30. Homosexuality has been a particularly touchy subject in the Black Community. Many preachers and elders condemn homosexuality and the whole issue has been a difficult one to dialogue about.
Just over half of Mainline Protestants (56%), hold the acceptance view of homosexuality. Again, the 18-29 year olds are the most accepting of homosexuality at 69%. This is fully 15% greater than over thirty Mainliners, showing the position of youth on this issue.
Especially in light of the conservative position of the hierarchy regarding homosexuality, in deed, sex in general, it is very surprising that 58% of Catholics endorse " Homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society." The Catholic rate of acceptance is higher than any of the Christian groups and only lower than acceptance by the Unaffiliated.
Here again we see a youth effect as nearly three-quarters (72%) of Catholics age18-29 accept the view that homosexuals should be accepted in society. In fact, the only group to score higher than Catholic youth is Unaffiliated youth (79%). Even more than half of Catholics thirty and over accept this view.
The data show a strong age effect. The Millennials clearly increase the overall support for accepting homosexuality in society than older members of their respective religious groups and other generations. For these young people, the "issue" of homosexuality is by and large a non-issue." Among a majority of young people, support for "liberal" view is taken for granted. The only exception is for Evangelical youth, a majority of whom accept the position that homosexuality should be discouraged. Still the 39% who view homosexuality as acceptable for society is startling.
The case of Catholics is very interesting. Sexuality, including birth control and homosexuality, are extremely controversial. Even the issue of abortion is beginning to divide Catholics.There seems to be an increasing gap between what ordinary Catholics believe and do and the official teaching of the hierarchy. One wonders whether or when the Church will come together as the People of God and discover a compassionate, relational ethic in this area.